Ray's Garden Rows: Herbs adaptable to marginal spaces

Ray Mueller

When it comes to growing a variety of herb plants, it's not necessary to have any dedicated space.

During the past two years, my step-daughter has been very successful in growing herbs right along the concrete walls on her home and at the edge of a sidewalk. It's amazing to see the results in soil that is marginal at best.

Among the species that are thriving are lemon verbena, stevia, lavender, nasturtium, sage and mint along with chrysanthemum. Garlic plants are growing between the herbs. The only disappointment has been oregano.

Saffron success

The latest addition has been the saffron crocus, which established itself this autumn on both sides of the sidewalk after a fence was placed around the groupings of plants to keep out the ravenous rabbits which began to dine on the young shoots.

By late October and early November, the saffron crocus plants displayed their splendor. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice. A recent price estimate puts its value at $16 to $20 per gram or as much as $500 per ounce.

To obtain saffron, the three red filaments are to be taken from the pistil in the flower and dried. It takes the filaments from about 150 plants to make one gram of dried saffron, which keeps its taste for about two years.

Easy sourcing

It is very easy to acquire the various herb species. They were obtained from an area greenhouse retailer, a big box store and a fundraiser sale.

The nicely growing herb plants provided some cuttings for sales at a farmer's market. For the most part, the harvest was dried in a fruit dehydrator for use as flavorings in a variety of foods.

The accompanying photos show the great variety in the collection of herbs as indicated by their blossoms and leaf formations. Thanks to the high and record high temperatures into early November this year, the plants were thriving into the second week of the month.

A healthy expanding mint growth started as a single plant in a 4-inch pot.
Lemon verbena (the large center leaves) are surrounded by stevia in a growing spot next to a house wall.
The super blue variety of lavender and a chrysanthemum provide rich colors at the edge of a concrete patio.
Nasturtium blossoms, which are suitable for salads, were still in their glory during the second week of November.